In a matchup between two teams on lengthy winning streaks, the Pittsburgh Penguins extended theirs to five games after defeating the San Jose Sharks, 5-1, on Thursday night. The victory ended San Jose’s winning streak at six games. With their win, the Penguins extended their Metropolitan Division lead to eleven points over the idle Washington Capitals.
The first period had some action, no scoring, but there was some action. Tyler Kennedy, playing in his first game in Pittsburgh as a visitor, connected with a hit on Brooks Orpik that only woke the eleven-year veteran up as he would step-up on Andrew Desjardins later in the period. The Penguins also showed a tribute video for Kennedy, and that was about it for the opening frame. The Penguins and Sharks went to the locker rooms tied at zero, but Pittsburgh led in shots, 12-7.
The Penguins took the game from the Sharks in the second period. In a five minute span, Pittsburgh lit the goal lamp three times. First, Pascal Dupuis broke the scoreless tie twenty-seven seconds into the period when he deflected a Brooks Orpik shot past Antti Niemi. About two minutes after the Dupuis, Jayson Megna received a pass from Simon Despres and entered the zone on a 3-on-1 with Joe Vitale and Chuck Kobasew. Instead of passing, Megna took it upon himself and wristed the puck by Niemi to give Pittsburgh the 2-0 lead. Megna was playing in place of Evgeni Malkin who missed the game with a lower body injury, and he really took advantage of his opportunity. Finally, at 5:27, Chris Kunitz made it a 3-0 lead when he backhanded a puck past the San Jose goaltender off a pass from Sidney Crosby. Kunitz and the Penguins weren’t done there as they got a power play at 7:16. On said power play, Kunitz lit the lamp once again when he pounced on a loose puck off the stick of James Neal to give Pittsburgh the 4-0 lead. About halfway through the period, the Sharks would finally give some kind of response when Tomas Hertl threw a puck at the net that found its way behind Marc-Andre Fleury. It’s hard to tell whether the puck bounced off of Fleury or Deryk Engelland, but it was a goal nonetheless. The second period ended with the Penguins leading 4-1, but the Sharks leading in shots, 24-15.
The third period started with the Sharks changing goaltenders, benching Antti Niemi for Alex Stalock. Three and a half minutes into the period, Kris Letang put the Sharks away for good when he snapped a puck from the top of the circle past Stalock to give the Penguins the 5-1 lead. Marc-Andre Fleury continued to shut the door on San Jose, stopping forty-four of forty-five shots to pick up win number sixteen on the season.
The Penguins head back to Boston on Saturday for their final regular season meeting with the Bruins (7:00 pm/et; Root Sports, NHL Network).
-Jayson Megna led all skaters in shots attempted. Never would’ve thought that.
-Pascal Dupuis left the game in the second period with a lower body injury. No details were given in the postgame conference.
-Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski thought Marc-Andre Fleury was “shaky.” Ok, he only stopped forty-four of forty-five shots.
-Name Chris Kunitz to Team Canada already.
-Career goal number fifty for Kris Letang.
1. PIT G Marc-Andre Fleury (44 saves, .978 save %)
2. PIT LW Chris Kunitz (2G)
3. PIT C Sidney Crosby (3A)